Uruguay’s President Luis Lacalle Pou warned on Monday that people have relaxed the measures against coronavirus and called for a strengthening of them again, following a new outbreak in a department bordering Brazil.
The small South American country of 3.4 million inhabitants, which has been erected as an example of success in controlling the pandemic that peaks in the region, came to have only 12 active cases of covid-19 last Thursday. But an outbreak in the Thirty-Three department raised the figure this weekend to 37 infected.
«I’m going to talk to the whole country: we relax a little,» Lacalle Pou said at a news conference from the capital of the affected department, where he traveled to determine new contingency measures.
«With what is happening today we went back some lockers (…), it forces us to pause, to go back everything we need. The truth is that we do it with regret, but it is our duty,» he added.
The representative announced that face-to-face classes in schools and high schools, which were restarted on June 1 in almost the entire country, would be suspended in the departmental capital until July 3.
He also reported the installation of five health checkpoints in the city’s income and exits and said that some thousand people, mostly linked to health personnel, the epicentre of the outbreak, will be tested for covid-19.
Thirty-three, a department located about 300 km northeast of Montevideo with around 50,000 inhabitants, recorded 18 new cases of coronavirus between Friday and Sunday, and waits for today the result of another 33 tests.
Between 11 and 17 June, Uruguay had four days without registering new cases of covid-19 and only added one case to the remaining days.
«We were celebrating a case, we were celebrating zero case, and it turns out that overnight we have 18 new ones. This gives us the clear signal that this is not won, that it is nowhere near,» said Lacalle Pou.
The representative said that, with the numbers until last week, he thought it would be possible to lift the health emergency «in a month and a half or two», but that with this setback that alternative will remain for later.
As of Sunday, the country has recorded 876 cases, 25 deaths and 814 recovered from the virus.